Title: Early Days

Author: Peter Bland

In: Sport 39: 2011

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2013, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Verse Literature

Conditions of use



    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Sport 39: 2011

Early Days

page 190

Early Days

Wellington 1954

I’m visiting Big Mo at the YMCA.
He’s the son of a chief from Fiji
and he’s opened a big wooden box
of landcrabs, sent
by his crab-eating Dad. They’re
huge, and they’re crawling
all over the floor
until Big Mo
boils them alive
in a fire-bucket
flogged from the hall. We
each gnaw a giant claw
and pour ourselves another DB
while watching two lovers
three floors below
through a gap
in some wonky blinds. Try
as they might they can’t
get it right. Big Mo
wants to show them
what to do. ‘I’ll just
knock on the door,’ he suggests,
putting down his giant claw. Thank
god they turn out the light
and leave us to our beer. Next
day I cadge a lift up north
—12 hours on a muddy road—
to visit Maurice Shadbolt
in Titirangi, where
I’ve never been before. I’m
blown away by the palms and pongas,
the giant treeferns
and the little pink parrots
page 191 flying around on his roof. There
are oysters at the bottom
of Maurice’s garden, and an artist
called Colin is decorating the door
with words and numbers (signs
and wonders) using paint
from the garage mixed with sweet sherry
which he quaffs straight from
the jar. Amazingly, the paint dries out
a lovely velvety green. When we
all get drunk and start farting a lot
(mud-oysters and sherry don’t mix)
Colin talks about God, while Maurice
puffs at his pipe until we’re lost
in a vicious cloud of black smog.
Two days of this and I’m off.
My guts are feeling like glue.
So I track down a nurse I met
on the boat (we’re both of us
£10 poms) and I try
to seduce her in Cornwall Park
but she tells me that sex
is tabu. I feel
like asking Big Mo to come over
and show me what to do! Instead
I head back to Wellington’s
big bare hills
and another grotty room. Then
I meet a marching girl
in a tartan skirt
who melts me to the bone. Big
Mo’s gone home. There’s no
landcrab left. But I’ve taken
to saveloys and free-verse
and a Kiwi muse in thigh-high boots
with a baton that twirls and twirls!